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Read Bjork's2001 interview with Juergen Teller from the index archives.

Kathleen Hanna discusses writing and making music in this interview from 2000 with Laurie Weeks.

Isabella Rossellini spoke with Peter Halley in this 1999 interview.

Check out our interview with Crispin Glover by Richard Kern from 2000.
Alexander McQueen's 2003 interview with Bjork.

Alannah Weston, 2003


The daughter of Canadian billionaire Galen Weston likes to entertain at ther London home and spend time with Arthur, her pug. Weston has and ease about her, a particular brand of British glamour.

BEN: You're an Irish-Canadian girl. Did you feel out of place when you got to Oxford?
ALANNAH: They didn't really know what to make of me. I arrived in jeans, cowboy boots, and an Australian hat that I got during my year off. They all called me a Canuck.

BEN: A Canuck?
ALANNAH: Yes. A Canuck is a Canadian, like a Kiwi is a New Zealander. Everyone gave me a really hard time for being a colonial. They were mostly a little younger than me. The boys had stereotypical English manners, which means they had no idea how to speak to women.

BEN: Did you spend most of your time running back and forth to London?
ALANNAH: I didn't go to London that often. But I did have a boyfriend who used to run a soup kitchen there. We would come up to London on Monday nights to give out sandwiches and cigarettes to homeless people.

BEN: A worthy way to spend your Monday evenings. After Oxford, you worked at The Telegraph Magazine, the weekend supplement to the London newspaper, and then you moved into fashion. You joined Burberry just when they decided to revamp their whole line.
ALANNAH: I thought it would be fantastic to get some experience in retail, since that's my family's business. I managed to get a job working for Rose Marie Bravo who was just beginning there. It was an extremely exciting time. There was a very small team that worked on everything from the ad campaign to the fashion shows, to the opening of the store on Bond Street.

BEN: It sounds quite glamorous.
ALANNAH: Being at Burberry was probably one of the most unglamorous times of my life. I spent a lot of time packing boxes and arranging for clothes to go to photo shoots. Once, at four in the morning, we just managed to get some jacket back from Milan that had to be in Texas by the next afternoon. I turned to one of my colleagues and said, "I can't believe I went to Oxford to do this." [laughs]

BEN: Burberry capitalized on its very old-fashioned English identity.
ALANNAH: Morgan Stanley did a study that showed that the older the brand, the more likely it is to succeed in the luxury market. Burberry was founded in 1866. It clothed the Antarctic explorers, Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackelton.

BEN: The height of the British Empire.
ALANNAH: Exactly. When George Mallory climbed Everest in the 1920s, he wore Burberry. The fabric had been developed to be waterproof but breathable. It was perfect for active people.

BEN: That explains why it's come round again as nightclubbing gear. What do you like to do when you go out in London?
ALANNAH: My favorite thing is to go to Leicester Square at four o'clock in the morning.

BEN: But why? It's just like Times Square.
ALANNAH: I love the bite, the energy. I love the idea of enjoying yourself on a Friday night and spilling into Soho, hanging out outside Bar Italia, or trying to get into the various clubs. It comes from growing up in a small town, Toronto, where everything closes down at midnight and people retreat into their homes. I guess I don't know any better.

BEN: I'm sure that's not true. What are your favorite clubs?
ALANNAH: I spend a lot of time at Soho House, Electric House, Two Bridges, Adam's Street. One of the things I like about London is the members' clubs.

BEN: All the old-fashioned places, with a twist. Two Bridges especially is a uniquely London club.
ALANNAH: You walk down a dark alley and go up a rickety staircase into this cozy little cluster of rooms - it's very Dickensian. You find people from the theater world, a lot of photographers, and some fashion people.

BEN: Parties at your place are well known to be great fun.
ALANNAH: I can't really cook, so I'm known for my Rotisserie Jules parties. Basically, I order in chicken and fries and everybody comes around. I do love food, but I just don't have the organizational skill to pick out a recipe, get to the supermarket, and cook it.

BEN: Food is not the most important ingredient for a good party.
ALANNAH: I'd say it's the wine. [laughs] But I know nothing about wine. There's a very nice man at Oddbins who helps me out.

BEN: Walking down your street this morning I was really struck by how much this neighborhood feels like a village.
ALANNAH: There's lots of chatting on the corner at midnight when you're walking the dog.

BEN: Do people ever use Arthur as an excuse to pick you up?
ALANNAH: Actually, he is something of a babe magnet. When he was a puppy I used to lend him to my friends, and they had tremendous success.

BEN: You've been spending a lot of time in Florida lately working on the art gallery at your family's resort project.
ALANNAH: About a year and a half ago, when I left Burberry, my father asked me to help him with the community he was building in Vero Beach, called Windsor. It's a beautiful place. The style of the community is what is called new urbanist. It's built in the traditional southern Florida style. Just imagine St. Augustine. There is a village center where you can get your newspaper, a post office, a church, and now there's a gallery.

BEN: And you are the creative director.
ALANNAH: Yes. I felt that we needed to build a cultural soul for the community. The idea was to start a gallery and invite curators to come to put on exhibitions. Our first show, in March 2002, was The Beach ? it was very apropos of Florida. We included work by Wolfgang Tillmans, David Hockney, Sugimoto, and Elger Esser. That was a big success.

BEN: Who else worked on the project?
ALANNAH: The curator Bettina von Hase. The two of us scoured the New York galleries for pieces. It was tremendous - the people were incredibly open to the concept of a gallery at Windsor.

BEN: And your current show is of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. How many shows will you do a year?
ALANNAH: We plan to do two shows a year between November and May ? the Florida season. I also hope to build a couple of studios and invite artists to stay. I hope that the shows will start to evolve out of the residencies. You know, I've just read the new Peggy Guggenheim biography, which is saucy, great fun.

BEN: I've been wanting to read that.
ALANNAH:Peggy surrounded herself with artists and helped to support them. Some turned out to be extraordinary, and some disappeared without a trace. I have two or three young artists that I work with. I buy their work and help get them funded.

BEN: You seem very committed to supporting contemporary art.
ALANNAH: Yes. But a friend of mine who's a dealer is always telling me not to waste my time, that I should buy small pieces by great artists. But if you don't support contemporary art, if you don't support what's happening now, then there won't be any Picassos or Pollocks. There won't be a surrealist movement in the future if someone doesn't take a few risks.
© index magazinegelatin1
Alannah Weston by Violet Fraser, 2003


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